Leaving the War of 1812 and the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chickamauga, Glenn Tucker has turned to the ""wooden ships and iron men"" of the embryonic U.S. Navy and its baptism of fire against the Barbary Pirates in the early 1800's. Historians will be more than satisfied, but the average reader may be bored by the plethora of detail. The author's knowledge plus research in the Tripolitan Archives make this unquestionably a definitive work which, paradoxically, may lessen its popular appeal. Assuming that the reader is familiar with this neglected period, Tucker moves from one scene and set of naval officers to another, not always clearly identifying locale and time. Each episode in itself is complete, but the book lacks cohesive organization. Still the story of our once proud policy of ""millions for defense but not one cent for tribute"" needs to be told and refers back to the time when the U.S., still in swaddling clothes, refused to be intimidated by pirates or permit its sovereignty to be threatened. Contemporary parallels can of course be drawn.